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  1. BRYSONFORCONGRESS Meadows lack of denial confirms scandal

    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba


    Meadows lack of denial confirms scandal


    Bryson City, NC, September 26, 2016—Those who saw the debate between Mark Meadows and Rick Bryson at Western Carolina University Friday night may or may not have noticed two subtle points.

    More payoffs:  The investigation into the misuse of public funds and sexual harassment scandal in Meadows’ office has focused on a single payoff to Meadows’ former chief of staff, Kenny West.  However, former employees in the congressman’s office have come forward to say that the practice of writing illegal “severance” checks was much larger than that.  At least five other people were paid off in this manner and dismissed.  When Bryson brought this up in the debate, MEADOWS DID NOT DENY IT.

    Failure to protect female office workers:  One woman who was sexually harassed in Meadows’ office was paid off and dismissed 14 months before Kenny West was let go.  The circumstances were clear; it was sexual harassment that drove her to leave.  Thus, Meadows had clear knowledge of West’s unwanted harassment long before it became public knowledge and he was forced to send West packing.  For over a year, women in Meadows’ office were exposed to sexual harassment with Meadows’ knowledge of what was going on.  When Bryson pointed this out in the debate, MEADOWS DID NOT DENY IT.

    Meadows does not want to talk about misuse of public funds and the sexual harassment that took place on his watch . . . about the same way that Richard Nixon did not want to talk about his cover up of the Watergate break-in.  However, as this story unfolds, he is found to have knowledge of what was going on, then doing nothing about it until the article that he was being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics broke a year ago.

    Having knowledge of a crime and doing nothing about it makes Meadows an accessory.


    Rick Bryson


    Tom Kociemba


    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba



    I was raised on a family farm in Robeson County. We grew tobacco, corn, soybeans, small grains, and cotton. We also had hogs and beef cattle. I received a BS in Agricultural Engineering from North Carolina State University and after graduating taught Vocational Agriculture at Bear Grass High School. I later took a job with the US Dept. of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) as the Executive Director of the Yadkin County Office. FSA administers farm programs, conservations programs, disaster programs, and makes loans for agricultural purposes. My top priority was to provide prompt, courteous, and efficient service to the landowners and farmers who visited our office. My staff did an excellent job of this. There is a lot of red tape in government programs. We could not change the requirements that were in the law, but we did our best to streamline the process and make it easier for the landowner and farmer to cut through all the red tape. For the past 26 years I have also owned and operated a farm in Yadkin County.

    I live in Yadkinville.  I was married to the former Sherri Casstevens for 35 years until she passed away suddenly in late 2014. I have two sons, a daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I am a member of North Oak Ridge Baptist Church. I strongly believe that you should give back to your community and get involved in community affairs. I have coached baseball and football for K-8th grade kids. I served on the Town Council and later as Mayor of Boonville. I was a member of the first Yadkin County Community School Board; served as President of the of the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Board; was a member of the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments, the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm Board, and various other agriculture committees. I currently serve on the North Carolina Ag Foundation Board, the Yadkin County Extension Service Advisory Committee, the Yadkin County Volunteer Ag District Board, the North Carolina State University College of Ag and Life Sciences Alumni Board, and am a member of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce and the Yadkin County Rotary Club.

    I have a unique background that is well suited for the position of Agriculture Commissioner. I grew up on a very diverse family farm and I now own and operate a small farm. I have worked for the public with both USDA and as Mayor of Boonville. During my time with USDA I worked closely with the Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Carolina Forest Service in order to provide seamless service to farmers and landowners. The North Carolina Legislature recently added these two agencies to the NC Dept. of Agriculture. I have worked closely with North Carolina State University, taught high school agriculture and served on several agricultural committees. I know firsthand the challenges and issues facing farmers today.

    There are a lot of lessons that can be learned growing up in a rural community on a family farm. I learned from my father that most problems can be solved with good common sense. He also taught me the value of putting in a full day’s work. We would often get up early enough to take cured tobacco out of a barn and load it on trailers so that by 8 am the barn was empty and ready to be filled up with that day’s harvest. After spending all day in the tobacco field we then unloaded the trailer and put the cured tobacco in a pack house. There were times when I questioned why we were still working while others quit at 5 o’clock. He answer was “we don’t stop until the job is done”.



    Tom Kociemba

  3. Beth Wood Bio and Achievements

    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba


    Beth Wood is a long-time public servant with 28 years of auditing experience. The first woman elected to that office, Beth has served as State Auditor since 2009. She previously worked in the State Auditor’s Office for more than a decade and also served in the State Treasurer’s Office. Prior to state government, Beth worked with Rayovac Corporation, as a CPA with McGladrey & Pullen and was the CFO for a North Carolina-based furniture company.

    During her prior time in the State Auditor’s Office, Beth was instrumental in bringing the state’s compliance supplements up to federal standards and ensuring that federal grants are being used as intended. She was a leader in redesigning the Auditor’s Office training program to make training more relevant to state auditors’ work. And she helped develop employee evaluations that better reflected the job performance of Auditor’s Office employees.

    She taught a variety of professional courses for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA). Beth has taught CPAs across the state and the nation how to audit governmental organizations, including the concept of risk-based auditing. She served on the AICPA Steering Committee for its annual Government and Not for Profit Conference.

    Like most natives of rural North Carolina, Beth’s first “job” consisted of helping on the family farm. Her family raised tobacco near Cove City in Craven County. After graduating from community college, Beth went to work as a dental assistant, but after a few years decided she wanted to complete a four-year college degree and enter the world of finance.

    She put herself through East Carolina University, graduating with a degree in accounting. She completed rigorous testing to become a Certified Public Accountant in 1987.


    My Mission

    A Note from North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood:

    Growing up on the farm in Craven County, I had daily chores from an early age and my parents taught me the value of hard work. I became a dental assistant and worked my way through college at ECU to earn my accounting degree. I have worked as a Certified Public Accountant for 28 years, and for the past 20 years I have worked in the State Auditor’s office, including my two terms as North Carolina State Auditor. I work every day to protect all of our tax dollars.

    As State Auditor, I have:

    • Identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending
    • Maintained objectivity and independence in the Auditor’s office
    • Produced audits with irrefutable findings
    • Aggressively presented audit reports for legislative action
    • Followed up on previous audits to ensure corrective actions are taken
    • Continued to identify abusive and wasteful spending of your taxpayer dollars

    I remain undeterred in my mission to protect taxpayers every step of the way. From start to finish, I vow to safeguard how your tax dollars are spent.




    Tom KOciemba





  4. Josh Stein for Attorney General

    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba


    Josh Stein has the experience and values the people of North Carolina need in their Attorney General.  Josh has consistently taken on powerful interests to protect families.  Just as he has his entire career, as Attorney General, he will put the people of North Carolina first.



    Between 2001 and 2008, Josh served as Senior Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection where he worked to ensure that big corporations played by the rules and treated people fairly.

    As Senior Deputy Attorney General, Josh accomplished the following:

    • Brought and successfully resolved major cases against predatory lenders;
    • Helped run the payday lenders charging loan-shark interest rates out of North Carolina;
    • Took on monopoly utilities to keep electricity and water rates low;
    • Drafted and helped enact legislation to combat identity theft, abusive telemarketing, and predatory lending; and

    Worked to improve safety features on Facebook and MySpace to protect kids from sexual predators.



    Between 2009 and 2016, Josh served in the state Senate and was a champion for public education, clean energy and public safety. He served on a number of committees, including the Judiciary I committee of which he was a member throughout his time in the Senate.

    In the Senate, Josh worked to:

    • Enhance protections for victims of domestic violence;
    • Expand the DNA database to take more violent criminals off the street;
    • Ban stalking through use of GPS tracking devices;
    • Strengthen our DWI laws to keep more drunk drivers off the road;
    • Ensure that our drinking water is clean;
    • Strengthen our economy; and
    • Improve public education.

    Josh’s efforts on the public’s behalf have earned respect and praise. The following diverse organizations have recognized Josh’s work:




    Tom Kociemba

  5. Linda Coleman Democrat For Lt. Governor IT’S TIME FOR A DIFFERENT APPROACH IN RALEIGH.

    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba





    I’m running for Lieutenant Governor because I want to give North Carolina’s middle class families a fighting chance again. The Republican majority running things in Raleigh continues to unravel so much of what built our great state. It’s time for a different approach. I know, working together, we can achieve this and more. Join me today by signing up below.



    Tom Kociemba

  6. We asked college newspaper editors for reactions to the first Clinton-Trump debate. Here’s what they told us.

    September 28, 2016 by tkociemba



    We asked college newspaper editors to weigh in — and, if they can, to share what they’re hearing from other students on campus — on the first 2016 presidential debate. Here’s what they have to share. We will continue to update this post as more reactions come in from more college journalists.

    Keeton Nance, editor-in-chief, Collegian, Willamette University:

    The presidential debate presented an opportunity for our politically charged campus to come together to share in an educational extracurricular opportunity. While Willamette is not the most conventionally spirited or unified campus, we do align in our political passion, which was demonstrated by the high student, faculty and community turnout at Debate Watch, an event held by a communications class to encourage discussion and intentional participation in politics.

    I was proud to see students listening intently and cheering for ideas they agree with, faculty facilitating discussion and 8-year-old girls taking notes on the candidates’ opposing arguments. At times throughout my Willamette career, I have felt unsatisfied with student engagement in a more traditional manner, such as attendance at on-campus events or athletic events. But I saw the unification of the student body tonight as laughter reverberated through the room as Hillary and Trump exchanged blows.

    The arguments presented in the debate gave me mixed feelings. I shared the sentiments of many of the Debate Watch participants as Trump suggested slashing taxes on corporations from 35 to 15 percent. Any attempt he made to include facts seemed weak and unfounded, and his bullish arguments lacked any intention other than to belittle Clinton. Having been a Bernie supporter prior to this summer, I felt encouraged and hopeful watching Clinton handle his barrage of slander with dignity and professionalism. She drove home her points with appropriate supporting facts and her policies were intentionally directed toward voters.

    I not only feel comfortable with the Democrat’s nomination, but very supportive. After watching this debate, I believe I am one of many students and voters who proudly stand with her.




    Tom Kociemba

  7. Vote Judge Michael R. Morgan for North Carolina Supreme Court

    September 27, 2016 by tkociemba



    Quality public education. A healthy environment. The right to vote. There’s a lot at stake in the race for North Carolina state Supreme Court judge.

    When conservative extremists in Raleigh pass controversial legislation, the North Carolina state Supreme Court is a critical check on their reckless power.

    That’s why we need to elect Judge Michael R. Morgan, a justice who has consistently based his rulings on the law, not politics.

    Judge Michael R. Morgan is endorsed by the North Carolina Democratic Party and will serve all North Carolinians with a balanced and impartial voice.

    Tell us you’re a working person who supports Judge Morgan now.



    Tom Kociemba

  8. Frederick E. “Rick” Bryson is the elected Alderman of Bryson City, and is running to represent the 11th district in Congress in North Carolina against Mark Meadows.

    September 27, 2016 by tkociemba

    Frederick E. “Rick” Bryson is the elected Alderman of Bryson City, and is running to represent the 11th district in Congress in North Carolina against Mark Meadows.


    Rick was born in Franklin, North Carolina in 1943, and grew up in Bryson City, North Carolina. As alderman he has pushed to get new water meters, have town named “Trout City,” and stopping the state from taking away town’s portion of sales tax.

    Education: Graduate of Swain County School System. Graduate of NC State, Mechanical Engineering

    Career: Owner/operator of Woodhill Communications, an industrial public relations firm. Author of 1000+ technical articles, on topics ranging from solar energy to artificial hearts. Frederick E. Bryson is the author of four published novels,and close to a thousand articles in industrial and business publications. • Scent of the River describes the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Southern Appalachia in 1838, and focuses on the one man who led his family to revolt. ISBN 141201560X • Wind in the Web is a follow-up novel to Scent of the River, and is a message of redemption for the Cherokees who have been evicted from their homeland. ISBN 1425176550 • Crossing to Tadoussac is the story of the Separatist Movement in Quebec in the late 1960s to the 1990s that resulted in the near-separation of Quebec from the Canadian Federation. It is told from the perspective of a remarkably assertive young woman who comes of age during this sulfurous period. ISBN 1926716000 The Jefferson Legion Novel Based in Western North Carolina, where a confederation of disgruntled mountain men try to resolve their complaint that government has become a club of the rich and influential, indifferent to the needs of average working people

    • White Nights on the Nevais an unpublished biography in novel form of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

    Residing in Western North Carolina, Bryson is an engineer-turned-writer. The Jefferson Legion is his first contemporary work set in his homeland.

    Family: Husband to Dotty, to whom Rick refers to as “Emily Jane” because she is a cross between Emily Post and Calamity Jane. Father of four daughters, grandfather of eight grandchildren, great grandfather of six (soon to be eight) great grandchildren.

    Political Party: Democrat-refers to himself as a “Mountain Democrat”



    Tom Kociemba

  9. Andy Millard for Congress in the 10th NC District

    September 27, 2016 by tkociemba




    Congress lost its way a while back and must find it again. We cannot afford more politics as usual, driven by sound bytes and hyper-partisanship. We need to have the hard conversations – real conversations, not the usual talking-past-each-other blather.

    I’m a financial planner so I tend to think of challenges in terms of budgets and investments, neither of which Washington bothers with these days. I’ve run a business so I know we can’t simply “run government like a business,” because government has a different mission from that of a business. I’ve spent decades working with diverse groups of fellow citizens to make improvements in my community. So while I will bring real-world experience to bear in Congress, I will also bring wisdom and a servant’s heart that will allow me to help fulfill the mission of Congress – representing the needs of our country and our district.

    Most important, I will focus my service on improving the lives of the people of the Tenth Congressional District.




    Tom Kociemba

  10. Roy Cooper slams Pat McCrory’s ‘Carolina Comeback

    September 27, 2016 by tkociemba



    Laying out his own jobs plan Wednesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper blasted Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s “Carolina Comeback” as well as his support for House Bill 2.

    The “Carolina Comeback,” a dramatic drop in unemployment along with the addition of nearly 300,000 jobs, is the centerpiece of McCrory’s re-election campaign. He has touted the nation’s “fastest-growing economy,” a claim backed by Politifact.

    But at a news conference at Central Piedmont Community College, Cooper argued that while the economy has improved across the country, most North Carolinians haven’t seen the benefits.

    “The truth is his ‘Carolina Comeback’ has benefited those at the top and done little for working families,” Cooper said. “… Simply because there are more jobs doesn’t mean that they’re better-paying jobs and people are making more money. That has to be our measure of success.”

    Cooper, the attorney general, said HB2 has cost the state “thousands of jobs and hundreds of million dollars” in investments. McCrory, he said, “doesn’t believe it’s a problem.” HB2 requires people in government facilities to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.

    McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said Cooper “continues to denigrate North Carolina and lie about the progress made over the past three years under Gov. McCrory’s leadership.”

    “You’d almost forget he’s been a politician serving inside state government for the past 30 years. His plan has no new ideas and would only take us back to the high tax, big government days of the past that left us uncompetitive as a state for jobs.”

    The debate underscores the continued importance of the economy as an issue in the governor’s race.


    Read more here:





    Tom Kociemba